2 Samuel 14; 2 Samuel 15; Luke 17:1-19

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2 Samuel 14

1 Joab, Zeruiah's son, knew the king was still thinking about Absalom.
2 So Joab sent [someone] to Tekoa to get a clever woman from there. He told her, "Please act like a mourner, and dress in mourning clothes. Don't rub olive oil on yourself, but act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for a long time.
3 Go to the king, and tell him this...." Then Joab told her exactly what to say.
4 The woman from Tekoa came to the king and immediately bowed down with her face touching the ground. "Help [me], Your Majesty," she said.
5 The king asked her, "What can I do for you?" She answered, "I'm a widow; my husband is dead.
6 I had two sons who quarreled in the field, and there was no one to separate them. One killed the other.
7 Then the entire family turned against me. They said, 'Give us the man who killed his brother so that we can kill him because he took his brother's life. We're going to destroy the one who [now] would be the heir.' In this way they wish to extinguish the [one] burning coal that is left for me. They will not let my husband's name or descendants remain on the face of the earth."
8 "Go home," the king told the woman. "I will order someone to take care of this matter."
9 The woman from Tekoa said to the king, "Let me be held responsible for the sin, Your Majesty. Let my father's family be held responsible. Your Majesty and your throne are innocent."
10 The king said, "If anyone says anything against you, bring him to me. He'll never harm you again."
11 She said, "Your Majesty, please pray to the LORD your God in order to keep an avenger from doing more harm by destroying my son." "I solemnly swear, as the LORD lives," he said, "not a hair on your son's head will fall to the ground."
12 The woman said, "Please let me say something else to you." "Speak," he said.
13 "Why have you devised something like this against God's people?" she said. "When you say this, you condemn yourself because you haven't brought back the one you banished!
14 We are all going to die; we are all like water that is poured on the ground and can't be gathered up. But doesn't God forgive a person? He never plans to keep a banished person in exile.
15 "I've come to say this to you because the people have frightened me. So I thought, 'I will speak to the king about this. Maybe the king will do something for me, his subject.
16 Maybe the king will listen and rescue me, his subject, from the man who wants to cut off both me and my son from [our] God-given inheritance.'
17 I thought that you would reassure me. You are like God's Messenger, who is able to distinguish right from wrong. May the LORD your God be with you!"
18 The king said to the woman, "Please don't refuse to answer the question I'm going to ask you." The woman responded, "Please speak, Your Majesty."
19 "Did Joab put you up to this?" the king asked. The woman answered, "I solemnly swear on your life, Your Majesty, you are absolutely right. Yes, your servant Joab ordered me [to do this]. He told me to say exactly what I said.
20 Your servant Joab has done this to portray the matter in a different light. You are as wise as God's Messenger, who knows everything on earth."
21 Then the king told Joab, "This is what you'll do. Bring back the young man Absalom."
22 Joab quickly bowed down with his face touching the ground, and he blessed the king. He said, "Today I know that you have been kind to me because you have done what I wanted."
23 So Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem.
24 But the king said, "Absalom should return to his own house. He will not see me." So Absalom returned to his house and didn't see the king.
25 Now, no one in all Israel was praised for his good looks as much as Absalom was. He had no blemish from head to toe.
26 At the end of every year, he used to cut his hair because it became heavy for him. When he cut the hair on his head and weighed it, it weighed five pounds according to the royal standard.
27 Absalom had three sons and one daughter. His daughter Tamar was a beautiful woman.
28 Absalom stayed in Jerusalem two full years without seeing the king.
29 So Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come. Absalom sent for him a second time, but he still refused to come.
30 So Absalom said to his servants, "Look, Joab's field is next to mine. He has barley in it. Go and set it on fire." So Absalom's servants set it on fire. Joab's servants came to him [in grief] and said, "Absalom's servants have set [your] field on fire."
31 Then Joab immediately went to Absalom at his home. "Why did your servants set my field on fire?" he asked.
32 Absalom answered Joab, "I sent someone to tell you to come here because I wanted to send you to the king to ask him why I had to come from Geshur. It would be better for me if I were still there. Let me see the king now! If I'm guilty of a sin, he should kill me."
33 Joab went to the king and told him this. The king then called for Absalom, who came to the king and bowed down with his face touching the ground. And the king kissed Absalom.

2 Samuel 15

1 Soon after this, Absalom acquired a chariot, horses, and 50 men to run ahead of him.
2 Absalom used to get up early and stand by the road leading to the city gate. When anyone had a case to be tried by King David, Absalom would ask, "Which city are you from?" After the person had told him which tribe in Israel he was from,
3 Absalom would say, "Your case is good and proper, but the king hasn't appointed anyone to hear it."
4 He would add, "I wish someone would make me judge in the land. Then anyone who had a case to be tried could come to me, and I would make sure that he got justice."
5 When anyone approached him and bowed down, Absalom would reach out, take hold of him, and kiss him.
6 This is what he did for all Israelites who came to the king to have him try their case. So Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
7 Four years later Absalom said to the king, "Let me go to Hebron and keep the vow I made to the LORD.
8 I made a vow while I was living at Geshur in Aram. I said, 'If the LORD will bring me back to Jerusalem, I will serve the LORD.'"
9 "Go in peace," the king told him. So he went to Hebron.
10 But Absalom sent his loyal supporters to all the tribes of Israel and said, "When you hear the sound of the ram's horn, say, 'Absalom has become king in Hebron.'"
11 Two hundred men invited from Jerusalem went with Absalom. They went innocently, knowing nothing [about Absalom's plans].
12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, David's adviser, to come from his home in Giloh. Meanwhile, the conspiracy grew stronger, and the number of people siding with Absalom kept getting larger.
13 Someone came to tell David, "The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom."
14 David told all his men who were with him in Jerusalem, "Let's flee immediately, or none of us will escape from Absalom. Let's leave right away, or he'll catch up to us and bring disaster on us when he massacres the city."
15 The king's servants told him, "No matter what happens, we are Your Majesty's servants."
16 The king left on foot, and his whole household followed him except ten concubines whom the king left behind to take care of the palace.
17 As the king and his troops were leaving the city on foot, they stopped at the last house.
18 All his mercenaries passed by him; all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, Ittai, and all 600 men who had followed him from Gath were marching past the king.
19 The king asked Ittai from Gath, "Why should you go with us? Go back, and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland.
20 You came to us just yesterday. Should I make you wander around with me when I don't even know where I'm going? Go back, and take your countrymen with you. [May the LORD] always show you kindness."
21 But Ittai answered the king, "I solemnly swear, as the LORD and the king live: Wherever you are, whether you're dead or alive, I'll be there."
22 So David told Ittai, "Go ahead and keep marching." So Ittai from Gath marched on with all his men and all the families who were with him.
23 The whole country was crying loudly as all the troops were passing by. The king was crossing the Kidron Valley, and all the people were moving down the road toward the desert.
24 Zadok and all the Levites with him were carrying the ark of God's promise. They set down the ark of God beside Abiathar until all the troops had withdrawn from the city.
25 The king told Zadok, "Take God's ark back to the city. If the LORD looks favorably on me, he will allow me to come back and see both it and its dwelling place again.
26 But if he says, 'I'm not pleased with you,' let him do to me what he considers right."
27 "Aren't you a seer?" the king asked Zadok the priest. "Go back to the city peacefully, and take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan with you.
28 I'll wait at the river crossings in the desert until I receive a message from you."
29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there.
30 David cried as he went up the Mount of Olives. He covered his head and walked barefoot. And all of the troops with him covered their heads and cried as they went.
31 Then David was told, "Ahithophel is among those conspiring with Absalom." So David prayed, "LORD, make Ahithophel's advice foolish."
32 When David came to the top [of the Mount of Olives] where people worshiped God, Hushai from Archi's family was there to meet him. His clothes were torn, and he had dirt on his head.
33 David told him, "If you go with me, you will only be a burden to me.
34 But if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, 'Your Majesty, I'll be your servant. I was your father's servant in the past, but now I'll be your servant,' then you'll [help me by] undoing Ahithophel's advice.
35 The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. When you hear anything from the royal palace, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar.
36 They have two sons with them: Zadok has Ahimaaz, and Abiathar has Jonathan. Send them to report to me anything you hear."
37 So Hushai, David's friend, went to the city as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

Luke 17:1-19

1 Jesus told his disciples, "Situations that cause people to lose their faith are certain to arise. But how horrible it will be for the person who causes someone to lose his faith!
2 It would be best for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large stone hung around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to lose his faith.
3 So watch yourselves! "If a believer sins, correct him. If he changes the way he thinks and acts, forgive him.
4 Even if he wrongs you seven times in one day and comes back to you seven times and says that he is sorry, forgive him."
5 Then the apostles said to the Lord, "Give us more faith."
6 The Lord said, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Pull yourself up by the roots, and plant yourself in the sea!' and it would obey you.
7 "Suppose someone has a servant who is plowing fields or watching sheep. Does he tell his servant when he comes from the field, 'Have something to eat'?
8 No. Instead, he tells his servant, 'Get dinner ready for me! After you serve me my dinner, you can eat yours.'
9 He doesn't thank the servant for following orders.
10 That's the way it is with you. When you've done everything you're ordered to do, say, 'We're worthless servants. We've only done our duty.'"
11 Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee on his way to Jerusalem.
12 As he went into a village, ten men with a skin disease met him. They stood at a distance
13 and shouted, "Jesus, Teacher, have mercy on us!"
14 When he saw them, he told them, "Show yourselves to the priests." As they went, they were made clean.
15 When one of them saw that he was healed, he turned back and praised God in a loud voice.
16 He quickly bowed at Jesus' feet and thanked him. (The man was a Samaritan.)
17 Jesus asked, "Weren't ten men made clean? Where are the other nine?
18 Only this foreigner came back to praise God."
19 Jesus told the man, "Get up, and go home! Your faith has made you well."